EVERETT — A former Seattle police officer was acquitted Wednesday of molesting an ex-girlfriend’s daughter.
Eric Smith, 58, wiped away tears and hugged relatives and friends after the jury’s verdict was read. Since his arrest in 2014 Smith has maintained that he was wrongly accused. He testified that he never sexually abused the girl, whom he considered a daughter.
The girl and her mother lived with Smith for years in his Bothell home. She continued to spend time with him after the couple’s break-up in 2009.
In 2014, the girl, then 12, told a health class teacher and principal that Smith had been abusing her since she was 7.
“With a single sentence Eric Smith’s life has been irrevocably damaged,” Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel said Tuesday during closing arguments.
His client will never get his reputation back and there always will be people who’ll wonder if he committed these crimes, Mestel said.
Smith had been a police officer for more than 20 years. He was put on leave without pay pending the outcome of the case. Smith later retired.
“Your job is to going to be to give him back his life and liberty,” Mestel said.
Mestel accused the girl of making up the allegations, saying her story was riddled with inconsistencies. She described situations that just weren’t possible, he said. She continued to spend time with Smith even after she and her mother moved out of his house.
“You don’t allow yourself to be put in a position to be repeatedly abused,” Mestel said.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Cindy Larsen told jurors that the girl didn’t have anything to gain by accusing Smith of molesting her.
She first reported the abuse to her mother in 2009. The girl repeated the allegations to Smith after she told her mother.
“She said it to his face. She was 7 years old,” Larsen said.
The girl later recanted when Smith and her mother questioned her further. Smith should have reported the incident and allowed law enforcement to investigate back then, Larsen said.
“The defendant has everything to lose by admitting he did this,” she said. “(The girl) has nothing to gain by telling you what happened,” except to hold him accountable.
Jurors deliberated for several hours Tuesday without reaching a verdict. Deliberations had to start over Wednesday with an alternate after one of the jurors couldn’t continue because of a family emergency.
“I think the jury arrived at the correct verdict,” Mestel said Wednesday.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @dianahefley.
Talk to us
- You can tell us about news and ask us about our journalism by emailing email@example.com or by calling 425-339-3428.
- If you have an opinion you wish to share for publication, send a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to The Daily Herald, Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206.
- More contact information is here.